CHAPTER 6-: This is the sixth chapter of “The Complete Guide to Starting a Photography Business.” – Do you want to increase your photography business revenue? If YES, here is a sample photography marketing plan template + killer marketing ideas to attract and retain clients.
Okay, so we have considered all the requirements for starting a photography business. We also took it further by providing an in-depth sample photography business plan template. In this article, we will be analyzing and drafting a sample photography marketing plan backed up by actionable guerrilla marketing ideas for photography businesses. So put on your marketing hat and let’s proceed.
You see, creating a budget, completing the legal paperwork, procuring the inventory, etc; are all essential steps towards forming your own photography business. Getting through these processes is certainly no refreshing walk in the park and can at times be extremely tiring and highly stressful. A lot of budding entrepreneurs crumble under the pressure of dealing with the formalities and legalities of forming a business before they can even reach the stage where they can discover and explore their entrepreneurial creativity.
The Entrepreneur’s Creativity
Creativity is something that does not only stem from art, it stems from a business mentality as well. Since you are going to be opening the doors to a photography business, it is easy for you to make the assumption that your creativity will be based on the uniqueness of the photographic works that your company will be producing and selling to clients.
As important as artistic creativity is in creating a successful photography enterprise, it is not nearly as important as the creativity that determines how successful you are as a businessperson. To acquire prosperity as an entrepreneur, you need to come up with ideas that are different from those of others and you need to execute these ideas in a way that has never been done before. The extent to which you are able to create and are able to express your creativity will decide how far you will go as the owner of a photography business.
Marketing is An Expression of Your Creative Input
This creativity comes in the form of marketing. Marketing may sound like a very technical term, but in the purest sense of the word, it means nothing more than coming up with creative ways to promote your business and increase your sales. In other words, when you are engaged in the task of marketing as the owner of a photography business, you need to put yourself in the shoes of a salesperson who is trying to reach out to the audience and let them know exactly what your business has in store.
The level of your creativity as a marketer and hence the level of success that you will achieve as a marketer will depend entirely upon how successfully you can connect with your target audience and how well you can inform and entertain them at the same time. The fundamental principle of marketing is to put the consumers ahead of your own needs.
You cannot come up with products according to your requirements and specifications, but rather you have to create those commodities which are in demand and which the customers are willing to pay a good price for. If you are able to cater your goods to satisfy the needs of your consumers, then you will have done half of your job as a good marketer. The other half deals with how well you can engage them, or in other words, draws their attention towards your business.
Consumer Engagement and Marketing in the Photography Industry
One of the most important aspects of marketing, especially in the case of a photography business, is crowd engagement or consumer engagement. Unless you have the attention of your targeted audience in the palm of your hands, you cannot earn a modicum of success in the industry. There is much more to running a business than simply maintaining the quality and churning out products and services at a rapid rate.
Besides focusing on how to upgrade the quality of your services and improve the performances of your photographers, you need to focus on ways in which you can beat your own drum with the hope of being head by a considerable portion of the consumers who are interested in photographic products and services.
For example, if you are running a wedding photography business, then you may have can have the best wedding photographers in town working for you and you can have the most expensive and technologically advanced cameras, tripods, photograph processing systems, accessories, lighting products etc but these will not suffice in opening up a wide channel of income generation for your business.
All your business arrangements, all your staff and all your inventory are invalid, incomplete and redundant without the presence of attracted customers. If people are not willing to subscribe to your photography services, ten there is absolutely no way that you can run a business, let alone hope for success in the short or the long run.
Therefore, when you have toiled and worked hard to produce an innovative, unique and high quality service or product that is representative of your photography business, the responsibility is on your shoulders to reach out to people and let them know exactly what your business has to offer to them. You cannot expect people to knock on your doors and plead for your photographic services. You have to get the word out about your business, and if necessary, head out for yourself in an attempt to enhance the reputation of your business and earn it some much needed recognition from the masses.
Change in the Dynamic
The dynamic of the photography landscape has changed drastically over the last few decades. In the yester years, it was common for people to seek out photography businesses and services themselves. Hence, there was no urgent need for photography businesses to market their valuable services to the people in a vehement fashion. Back then, you could simply sit in your office all day long and expect people to show up at your doorstep and request for the services of your photographers. Times were far easier then than they are today for entrepreneurs.
With the rapid growth of the industry, the number of photography businesses has dramatically risen in a very short amount of time. Given the boom in the industry and the exponential increase in the interest towards photography, there is n denying the fact that the demand for photography will continue to rise. As the demand rises, so will the competition and as the competition curve goes higher and higher with each new day, you will find yourself in a position to come up with brand new ideas to acquire a competitive edge in the market and to hold on to your advantage for as long as possible.
Therefore, marketing is not only essential to spread the word around about your company and let people know about the potential of your business, but it is also highly needed in ensuring that your company finds a secure spot in the industry and does not get swept off its feet by intense competition. The more intense the competition becomes, the cleverer the marketing strategies that are being made will turn out to be.
Unwavering Persistence and Firm Faith
Marketing a photography business is under no circumstances an easy task. As a matter of fact, marketing any business, regardless of whether it is associated with photography or not, is quite a steep challenge. Nonetheless, when it comes to photography, the stakes are raised a bit higher and so are the obstacles. As opposed to setting up the business, for which you do not necessarily require an office space, marketing the photography business proves to be a severe challenge for a huge number of budding young entrepreneurs.
If you lack experience in the field of photography businesses (even if you have prior experience as a freelance professional photographer) then you will struggle to specialist contacts you can help you to build a marketing structure and devise a marketing plan that you can count on. Your newness in the business or your novelty in the field of entrepreneurship will act as stumbling block when you are trying to send your product and services out to the public who are willing to pay a good price for them.
Sometimes the hurdles are so exigent, that a good number of entrepreneurs give up their hopes of ever making it big in the field of photography businesses. You on the other should not be demoralized or have your spirits dampened under any condition. The first step towards overcoming the obstacles of marketing your photography business is remaining persistent in your efforts and harbouring immense faith in the kind of product and services that you are sending out to the people.
The Power of Marketing
The initial step that you need to take in order master the art of marketing any business is not underestimating the influence of marketing. In other words, you need to truly encapsulate the power of marketing before you can proceed with your salesmanship endeavours. People will not take your marketing efforts seriously unless you are paying enough attention and importance to them yourself.
Besides being the study and the mechanism of promoting a business, marketing can actually be seen as a tool that can either make or break your business. If your business is the camera, then the marketing tools that you are conjuring up and employing are the lenses that you use to improve the efficacy of your camerawork. If you misjudge the ability or the usefulness of the lenses, then you will be wasting your time with the camera and your pictures are bound to turn out pretty mediocre.
However, if you have extensive knowledge of the lenses that you have been handed and the uses that they are appropriate for, then you can make the most out of the camera and lens combination. Similarly, your business philosophy, your production mechanism and your marketing strategies should go hand in hand.
These elements of your business should not be separated from other since each of them supplement and complement one another perfectly and help to create the symbiotic harmony that is required to sustain a business and facilitate its continued growth in the future. If you fail to implement the best marketing strategies, your business will end up in the trench, and even the spirits of the business world will not be able to revive your business and place it on the ramp of recovery.
Stock and Assignment Photography Marketing
As mentioned before, there are two main categories of photography businesses. The first is the stock photography and the second is the assignment photography. Depending on which course your business is going to take, your marketing plans will differ. In other words, the marketing plans for a stock photography business will never be the same as the marketing plans of an assignment photography business. There will be huge differences between the two, and it’s preferable that you do your homework on both kinds of strategies so that you eliminate the possibility of a mix up in the future.
Marketing Plans Must Change
Remember, the marketing plans that you create for your business are not meant to be absolute. They are subject to change and these changes can be triggered by a variety of reasons including the growth of your businesses, alterations in the funding or finances, recruitment of greater number of photographers or perhaps a simple change in your overall business philosophy.
When you are creating a marketing plan, it is important that you create one which is not rigid and one that can be easily modified at any time interval according to the needs and demands of your business. The more flexibility you can accommodate in your marketing plan, the easier it will be for you to adapt and respond to a number of different changes. At the end of the day, it’s adaptability which is key to the survival of any photography businesses.
5 Guidelines for Creating a Marketing Plan for your Photography Business
You also need to bear in mind that a change in the marketing plans should not always be coerced by external factors. Sometimes, it is imperative to bring about changes in the marketing strategies simply because you want to stay updated and not make your think tank become absolute. Some of the best photography businesses in the industry hire specialist marketers who are heavily reimbursed for the task of constantly bringing about crucial change to the marketing plan of the photography business.
You may not have the finances required to afford a marketing specialist, but that should not stop you from always being on the lookout for new ways to market your photography business. The more consistent you are with your changes, the better are your chances of earning a competitive edge in the market. With that being said, here are 5 guidelines that will aid you in creating a full-fledged marketing plan for your photography business.
1) Target Your Audience
You cannot randomly market your product to anyone and everyone. Imagine trying to visit congregations in the city and handing out flyers that advertise your photography business; would that not be a little too amateurish by the standards of an entrepreneur?
Therefore, before you can set your marketing strategies in stone, you need to come up with a detailed and specific description of the kind of people that you are trying to market your photography services to. In certain cases, this task will be very easy. For example, if you own a wedding photography business or a pet photography business then you already know that your target audience are couples and pets respectively.
However, if you are engaged in the field of fashion photography, then you need to quickly determine the types of fashion houses that your business is going to target. Will you go for the high street fashion houses or would you settle for simple outfit and clothing retails that cater to the masses? The choice is yours, but the choice depends on the nature of your business and the amount of money that you are prepared to make.
In short, the sections of the consumer society which will be most responsive to your photography services and marketing ploys are the ones that you should be targeting from the onset. You can aim to expand your audience once you have discovered a niche for yourself.
2) Cater to Their Needs
When you put yourself in the shoes of a marketer, you cannot take your own desires, inhibitions, aspirations and personal ambitions into account. You need to think from the perspective of your valued customers and clients. Try to tap into their minds and grab an insight into their psychology.
Understanding consumer psychology is now key to marketing your photography business. Be on your heels for constant feedback, be it negative or positive from the clients. These will allow you to know exactly what the clients are looking for and what they want from your business.
For example, if your business is involved in product photography, then do not impose your will upon the assignment. Obtain clear instructions from your clients and take photographs according to their requirements. Your idea of photographing a laptop may be better than theirs and you have every right to express your expertise. But do not shove your knowledge and intellect down their throats to the extent where they become annoyed with your supposed superior concepts of photography. If your ideas and those of your clients are at two extreme ends of the road, then try to come midway to accommodate the needs of your clients.
3) Build Up a Presence
When it comes to marketing, the word presence does not imply the physical presence that your photographers will create. Rather, it refers to your reach and your ability to shed the light of exposure on your work. Advertise your photographic works wherever possible and make sure that the advertisements are reaching the targeted audience. Do not go overboard with your advertisements and promotions.
As important as they are, spending lavishly on promoting your product or service without paying a dime to improve its quality will hardly fetch you any respectable clients. Make sure that each and every single advertising campaign, or marketing campaign for that matter, is cost effective and does not strain your budget.
4) Localize Your Marketing
There are direct approaches to marketing and then there are indirect ways of doing it. One of these indirect ways is visiting local places in and around your photography business and spreading the word about your business. For example, you can take a trip to the local library and kindly request them to publish your photographic works on their weekly, monthly or annual publications. Library magazines may not be the hottest reading materials in the city, but they surely reach a considerable number of people as they are often distributed at subsidized rates.
Another way of getting a foothold in your locality is by getting in touch with the local religious institutions such as the church or the mosque or the synagogue. Providing these institutions with free services from time to time will help you build your reputation in the society.
5) Consult Other Entrepreneurs
Although you are not encouraged to share your marketing strategies in public, but you should find time to have conversations with your fellow photography business entrepreneurs. Discuss generic marketing ideas with them and trying to get their insight on what’s needed to successfully market a business. Sometimes, these conversations can even lead to collaborations which will further boost your marketing prowess.